As part of both the training and The ascent itself the boys will be staying in huts half way up a mountain. A nice comfy flat in the town to stay in, but no a hut is prefered. Something about being more in touch with nature and a long way to get back up again in the morning.
In October last year they had a jaunt up to Le Requin Refuge, 2516m up over looking the Mer de Glace. At that time of year it was unmanned so they weren’t treated to the little luxuries of electricity or heating. But they kept themselves occupied by playing cards under the the light of their head torches and drinking a box of red wine. Nice. Mind you, they possibly didn’t miss out on much as it seems the hosts of 12 years have recently left the establishment under controversial circumstances.
This time they’ll be do their altitude training at Les Cosmiques, 3,613m up, not too far from Aiguille du Midi. From what I gather that activity is just a mater of hanging about high up a mountain, playing football, chewing gum, etc. to see if you get sick with the altitude. I’m sure if they have wifi up there they might even be able to count it as a working day. They are in luck though as Les Cosmiques has gone gastro. Mickey Bourdillat the head chef at Le Bistrot, the Chamonix Michelin stared restaurant has been giving cooking classes up there recently. Yum!
And if you look very carefully you might be able to see the Cosmiques hut on this photo of the Arrete des Cosmiques.
Assuming they can cope with the altitude, back down they come and the proper walk begins. Their next refuge will be at a similar height, 3,167m, Tete-Rousee, which is popular on this trail. Only around another 1,700m ascent from there. Easy, yes???
So what else might you expect of a refuge? They say some great stuff about them which makes them sound oh so delightful, just the sort of thing you look for on holiday….
“Gîtes d’étape, gîtes d’étape et de séjour (stopover or short-stay lodgings)
This type of accommodation is found in lowland and middle-range mountain areas. They offer small dormitories and rooms, blankets provided, which are improving all the time. Previously, these stopover places provided a small kitchen area which nowadays is often lacking. Absence of cooking facilities is mentioned. When no restriction is specified, you can cater for yourself. With or without self-catering, half-board is often possible on request (sign repas).“
The lads were in two minds as to whether or not to take sleeping bag liners . After reading that I think I’d take one, just to be on the safe side as you just don’t know how much things have ‘improved‘:-)